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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

f   III
LIMITATIONS  OF BRITISH CONTROL
49
carried fire and slaughter into Egypt itself. I think he really believed that it was Egyptian troops who alone reconquered the Sudan, and he was quite confident that Egypt, when once she had achieved " complete independence/3 wbuld be not only able to retain it unaided, but justified in holding it by force, however much the Sudanese might, also in their turn, clamour for " complete independence/' as they, unlike the Egyptians, are still, he unblushingly contended, quite unripe for it, and, indeed, could never be allowed to aspire to it, since Egypt must, in her own interest, always control the upper waters of the Nile.
Since Mehemet Ali conquered it, the Sudan had remained an unruly province, and even men like Samuel Baker and Gordon had only been able to counteract very intermittently the universal hatred of Egyptian rule throughout that vast region stretching from the Equator to Upper Egypt and from the Red Sea to Darfur. Whilst chaos was reigning in 1882 in Cairo, one of those strange figures that Islam from time to time throws up out of the mysterious depths of an ever latent fanaticism was sending a fiery call to salvation through the Sudan. Half prophet and half adventurer, the Mahdi had proclaimed himself invested with a divine mission to rescue the Sudan from Egyptian misrule, then to march upon Egypt and drive out the Turks, and finally to subdue the whole world to the faith of the Prophet. Encouraged doubtless by rumours of Egyptian anarchy, the people of the Sudan flocked to his victorious standards. The Egyptian garrisons were scattered and overwhelmed. The Kordofan province and El Obeid fell early in 1883, and with the annihilation of Hicks Pasha's ill-armed and ill-equipped army on November 5th it became clear to all but the most light-hearted of Egyptian Ministers that not even Khartum could be saved without military support from England. And England, unwilling to give . that support, advised and even enforced the abandonment of the whole of the Sudan as the only course compatible
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